A deflected free kick just six minutes in was enough to give Burnley the points in a pulsating Lancashire derby at Deepdale.
North End were forced into three changes to the starting line-up; Anders Lindegaard and Marnick Vermijl both failed fitness tests and Eoin Doyle was absent due to a bereavement and this meant Chris Kirkland, Calum Woods and Jermaine Beckford came back in.
But it was the visitors who broke the deadlock with a moment of good fortune. A softly awarded Joey Barton free kick 25 yards out took a deflection off Alan Browne in the PNE wall and past a stranded Kirkland, who could do nothing about it.
Straight after the goal Ben Pearson was injured and Daniel Johnson replaced him.
Just after the half hour mark there was a brilliant block from Greg Cunningham that denied a goal from Andre Gray after Burnley found their way into the box and the Championship’s top scorer was completely unmarked until the Irishman appeared from nowhere to make the block.
With eight minutes left in the opening period there was a massive penalty shout for the Lilywhites and the replays seemed to indicate they should have got the decision as Jermaine Beckford was shoved off the ball by Barton when setting up to shoot in the box.
From that moment until the end of the half the match official lost control with cries of derision from both ends of the crowd after a number of strange decisions that included three bookings.
Less than three minutes into the second half and North End had a superb chance to level it up when Cunningham’s cross from the left found Jermaine Beckford six yards out, but the frontman headed over the bar to give the Clarets a let off.
Some fantastic defending again by the Lilywhites shortly after kept out Gray, Boyd and Vokes all in the space of a few seconds, the post and bar also in the equation as the goal in front of the Bill Shankly Kop lived a charmed life for a short spell.
Calum Woods cut inside and saw a shot deflected wide for a corner just before the hour mark as the home side pushed harder for parity.
On the 70 minute mark a long ball from Kirkland was controlled by Beckford on the edge of the box and laid sideways for Johnson. His right-footed shot was superbly stopped by Heaton, falling to Joe Garner on the rebound, but he couldn’t keep his left foot half volley down.
In the final minute of five added on Adam Reach had a chance on the edge of the box after Calum Woods’ long ball in, but his effort was inches over the bar and the visitors held on for the points.
PNE line-up: Kirkland, Woods, Reach, Clarke (c), Wright, Cunningham, Pearson (Johnson, 10), Gallagher, Browne (Robinson, 84), Garner (Hugill, 74), Beckford. Subs not used: Hudson, Kilkenny, Huntington, Smith.
Burnley line-up: Heaton (c), Lowton, Ward, Marney (Jones, 90), Keane, Mee, Boyd, Barton, Vokes, Gray (Barnes, 79), Arfield. Subs not used: Robinson, Taylor, Dyer, Tarkowski, Darikwa.
Attendance: 17,789 (5,690 away fans)
Referee: Mr K Friend